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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

carrot cake cupcakes with creamy frosting

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letting go

These last several weeks I’ve been working on letting go. Letting go of some of the tasks and obligations that, if I had a clone, I could easily accomplish. Unfortunately, there is only one of me, so I have had to start being a little more realistic about how much work is sustainable over the long term. This has not been an easy project.

As much as I love all my projects (the bakery, the CSA business, the farmers market non-profit), I’ve realized that doing all my tasks for each of them is too much. Even though I am passionately attached to each one, I am learning that I can remain passionate about something, but not DO everything myself. It’s OK to let go.

In that vein, I’ve hired my wonderful friend Nancy to help with the CSA… she is taking over the technical support and customer service tasks, as well as learning how to manage the website. It’s SO GREAT to have her help! This letting go, while difficult at first, is giving me more time with my family, more time to exercise, and more time to slow down and (try to) feel peaceful.

So… I feel like celebrating! And everyone knows that cupcakes and celebrations go together. I had time to pick up Meredith early from preschool today and we made these carrot cake cupcakes!

 

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carrot cake cupcakes with creamy frosting

You know how good our Alaskan carrots are, and this is a perfect recipe to celebrate them! Cupcakes and cakes are always good for celebrating, don’t you think? You can make a beautiful layer cake or gorgeous cupcakes, topped with creamy, tangy white frosting and golden curls of toasted coconut.

This recipe is based on one in rebar modern food. A single batch will make 18-20 cupcakes, or one 8” double-layer cake.

cake

1 ½ cups grated carrots
¾ cup crushed unsweetened pineapple, drained
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional—leave it out if you’re not a coconut fan)
½ cup chopped dates
¾ cup toasted walnuts, chopped (toast for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven)
½ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

frosting

1 block Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese (12 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

garnish

1-2 cups large unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted in a 300 degree oven for about 8 minutes, until light golden-brown
OR if you’re making this with a four-year-old, you can choose a different garnish, like…
jellybeans? And then SHE can eat the ones with jellybeans.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8” round cake pans and set aside. Combine grated carrot, pineapple, coconut, dates and walnuts in a large bowl.
2. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the sugars with the eggs. Stir in the vanilla and whip on high speed until the volume has tripled. On medium speed, pour the oil in slowly to blend.
3. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and gently stir into the egg mixture. Fold gently into the carrot mixture. Divide the batter between the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks. Wait until the cakes are completely cool before making the frosting.
4. Beat the cream cheese with the vanilla and powdered sugar until completely creamy. Put the bottom layer of the cake on a plate, and spread just the top of the cake with frosting. Place the top cake layer on, and again, just frost the top of the cake. (If you want to frost the sides of the cake as well, you’ll need to make a double batch of the frosting, but I don’t think it needs it.) Garnish the top with toasted coconut.

For cupcakes, line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers and spray the papers with nonstick spray. Scoop the batter into the cups (use an ice-cream scoop if you have it) and fill the cups fairly full; the cupcakes don’t rise much because of all the carrots and fruits and nuts weighing down the batter. Bake them at 350 degrees, testing them for doneness with a toothpick after about 20 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven, let cool in tins for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Wait until completely cool before decorating, as for the cake.

 


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